While the living wage is an optional rate that employers can choose to pay, the minimum wage is the provincially-mandated legal minimum employers must pay their employees.
The current general minimum wage in BC is $12.65 per hour, and it will increase to $13.85 per hour on June 1, 2019. It will reach $15.20 per hour in 2021.
The living wage is an amount calculated to reflect the cost of living in a community, whereas the minimum wage is set arbitrarily by the provincially government and is not pegged to inflation or any metric of affordability. As our calculations show, families cannot afford to get by on the minimum wage.
The minimum wage continues to be several dollars below the living wages for most communities. In Revelstoke, the minimum wage as of June 2019 will still be $5.05 per hour lower than the living wage – a difference of over $20,000 in annual income for the living wage family.
However, the fact that some of this year’s living wages come closer to the general minimum wage points again to the power of good public policy. Our calculations for Prince George, Kamloops, and Cranbrook are in the range of $14 per hour, which is very close to the June 2019 minimum wage of $13.85. This is a win for BC families and shows what can happen when governments make bold public investments to help BC families.
Moreover, the Living Wage for Families Campaign is currently engaging with the government’s Fair Wages Commission, which is holding a public consultation about how to address the discrepancy between the minimum wage and a living wage. For more information on this consultation, which is open until May 31, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/fairwagescommission/.